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Monitoring the Economy in Conwy County Borough

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This monitor looks at key economic indicators for Conwy County Borough, presenting the latest data, historical context and providing some commentary on what the data shows. Topics covered include employment and worklessness, the local and national economic context, housing activity and income and benefits.

This is the latest monitor in a series which is produced by the Corporate Research and Information Unit. It updates the information sources used in the July 2015 monitor. New data sources will be added to the monitor as they become available.

Click here to download the research bulletin

Headlines January 2016

  • In Q4 2015 the UK economy grew by 0.5%. This was the twelfth quarter of GDP growth. However, GDP per capita has recovered only some of the fall seen during the recession, as population has grown faster than GDP. In Q3 2015, GDP per head was at 100.3% of its Q1 2008 level.
  • For the third quarter of 2015 construction output was at only 95.6% of the Q1 2008 level, manufacturing was at 93.7% and production at 87.3%. None of these sectors has seen sustained growth since 2008. The service sector – by far the largest sector in the economy – has lifted the overall index into growth. GDP is currently at 108.2% its Q1 2008 level.
  • There are current concerns regarding the possibility of national and global economic downturn, due to issues such as the UK's low productivity compared to competitors, the slowdown in growth in emerging economies such as China, and the fall in global oil prices.
  • Currently there is speculation that the Bank of England will not start to raise the base interest rate until 2017. The annual RPI inflation rate for December 2015 was 1.2%. The annual CPI inflation rate was 0.2%. Inflation has been driven down by falls in fuel prices (and in related goods such as air travel), despite rises in cost for other goods such as food and clothing.
  • 50,500 people in Conwy CB were in employment in the last recorded quarter, a rise of 500 since the previous year, but figures are still below the 2007 high of 50,600 in employment.
  • The Business Register and Employment Survey for 2014 puts the number of PAYE jobs in Conwy CB at 41,500. This is an increase of around 400 jobs since the previous year. Between 2008 – the start of the recent economic downturn / falling job numbers – and 2014 the overall increase in jobs in Conwy CB was 600 or 1.5%.
  • The highest losses since 2008 are in the retail sector (-750 jobs), manufacturing, motor trades and public administration (-200 each) and the wholesale sector (-100). The health sector saw the biggest growth (about +650 jobs). The biggest proportional growth was in the agriculture sector which has increased by 78.3% since 2008 (about 100 jobs). Other significant growth sectors since 2008 are arts & entertainment (+550), business administration/support and property (+300 each).
  • Levels of part-time working are high in Conwy CB – 41% of employees work part-time compared to 33% and 31% in Wales and Great Britain respectively.
  • The employment structure in Conwy CB differs from that of Great Britain as a whole. The production base has declined considerably over the past 20 or so years to about 4.1% of employees by 2014, and there is a heavy skew towards the service industries and the tourism sector. The 2014 STEAM report estimates that around 9,850 jobs are provided directly by the tourism industry and a further 2,400 jobs are indirectly supported by tourism – over 12,200 jobs in total, which is well over a quarter of all employment in Conwy County Borough. Tourism brings in around £775 million each year to the local economy.
  • More people travel out of Conwy for work than travel in to the County Borough – a net out-flow of about 6,900 commuters. Altogether, around 29% of Conwy's working population travel out of the area for employment. Most of these outward commuters travel to the neighbouring Welsh authority areas (to Denbighshire in particular), though an estimated 2,400 people travel to England for work.
  • The claimant count unemployment rate for December 2015 was 2.3%, an increase of 0.2% on the previous month but lower than the same period last year. Whilst unemployment rates have generally fallen in recent months, the reduction is not as sustained or stable as for the GB rate.
  • The total number of unemployed claimants aged under 25 was 380. In general, young people under the age of 25 make up between 20% and 30% of all JSA claimants.
  • There were 370 claimants aged 50 or over in December 2015 – nearly 150 more than there were in the autumn of 2007.
  • 7,000 people were either unemployed or economically inactive and wanting a job in September 2015 but Jobcentre's Universal Jobsmatch system showed only 600 jobs available within a 10 mile radius of Llandudno, and only 2,000 jobs available within a 20 mile radius.
  • In 2015 there were an estimated 4,275 business enterprises with their operational base in Conwy County Borough. The proportion of businesses which are within the agricultural sector (over 16%) is particularly high (GB = only 5%), reflecting the rural nature of much of the County Borough. The accommodation and food services sector also accounts for a high proportion of businesses (13%) in comparison to the national trends, as a result of the importance of the tourism industry within the area. The high skill sectors (professional, scientific and technical; information and communication) are under-represented in Conwy CB when compared to GB as a whole.
  • Businesses which have their main base in Conwy CB tend to be smaller than in Wales or Great Britain as a whole in terms of size of workforce and annual turnover levels.
  • 9.5% of the non-domestic properties in Conwy County Borough were registered as vacant at the end of December 2015. This is around 416 properties in total. The number of vacant properties has fallen by -3.3% since last quarter and by -8.0% since last year.
  • 35 properties became vacant in the three months to end December 2015 – 5 less than in the previous quarter. Compared to last quarter, the number of properties which have been empty more than a year has fallen by 14. Properties that have been empty for more than a year make up 7.3% of all non-domestic properties in the County Borough.
  • Despite average (mean) house price in Conwy CB rising by 7.5% in the last year, house prices in Conwy CB are currently at only 93.4% of the level they were 10 years ago (England and Wales average = 118.5%).
  • Currently the average houseprice for Conwy is 5.6 times the median household income.
  • The median house price for Conwy County Borough was £148,000 in 2014, an increase of 2.4% since the previous year. The lower quartile house price was £115,000, an increase of 4.5% since the previous year.
  • For each year since April 2007 (the start date for the current local development plan) the provision of new dwellings has fallen below the annual figure needed to reach the identified requirement of 6,800 additional dwellings by 2022. In the 8 years to April 2015 only 2,136 additional dwellings have been provided – if the requirement was shared equally across that period, that figure should be closer to 3,600. That is a shortfall of about -1,500 or -41% below target.
  • Between November 2014 and May 2015 the proportion of the population aged 16-64 who were claiming benefits fell by 0.5% to 15.3%, continuing the fall back to pre-2007/8 recession levels which began in mid-2014. Conwy CB has a high incidence of claimants of incapacity benefits, when compared to the GB average.
  • Wage levels for jobs in Conwy CB are significantly below levels for Great Britain as a whole. The 2015 median gross weekly wage (including overtime and bonuses) for all full-time employees in Conwy CB was £473. This was only 89% of the British average.
  • Wage deflation is also an issue. As well as the fall in weekly pay and the disparity between Conwy CB and national wage levels, the buying power of wages has shrunk in recent years. In real terms, with national average weekly wages in November 2015 was the equivalent of only 89.4% of January 2008 weekly wages.
  • The annual average (median) household income fell by about £1,550 between 2011 and 2015 to £23,750. In the same period the households with lowest incomes in the County Borough also became worse off – lower quartile household income fell by £1,050 to just £13,500. The proportion of households with income falling below 60% of the median for Great Britain fell slightly but at 27.5% was still well above the GB level.
  • Per head of population, the gross disposable household income (GDHI) for Conwy and Denbighshire was only 93.3% of the UK average. Between 2012 and 2013 the total money available rose by about £92 million, or £400 per person.
  • In 2014, there were 221 individual insolvency cases in Conwy County Borough. This was a decrease of 38 since the previous year. However, the rate of 23.4 per 10,000 adults (aged 18+) was above the rate for England and Wales, and nearly two and a half times higher than 10 years ago. The rate of total individual insolvencies in Conwy County Borough started to rise in 2004, predating the economic downturn.